The Hunt for Antiques from Paris
My husband and I have always loved Paris. We spent our honeymoon in both London and Paris, 33 years ago and we’ve been returning to Paris ever since. It’s not that we disliked London, it’s simply that we adored Paris, from the first time we ever laid eyes on Winged Victory of Samothrace placed in the center of that double staircase located in the original entrance to the Louvre. Returning year after year, we have never lost our fascination with this most enchanting city. Gradually we learned how to shop for antiques from Paris and additional decorative pieces for Summerhill.
Recently we returned, in mid November, accompanied by Katherine and her wonderful husband Scott, to start buying again for the shop. We have had a long period during which the euro cut us completely out of buying in France. When the French franc was the currency, France was literally “on sale” to Americans. The euro’s high exchange rate made that impossible for around 10 years. As the exchange rate keeps coming closer to par, we thought it might be a good time to open that market again. What follows is a short story of our experiences.
There are three solid venues from which we could buy, discovered during our many trips. The first such venue is an open-air market in the southwest quadrant of the city. It’s called Porte de Vanves, a classic open-air flea market where vendors sell a huge variety of French vintage items. One must exercise great caution here. All items are sold as is and every sale is final. But there are treasures to be found here. Katherine and I were quite successful. Treasures were found, many of which required quite a bit of work to bring them up to shop standards, but the “bones” of our purchases were perfect.
The second venue is the auction house, L’Hotel Drouot. This auction house has several locations in the city. We prefer the location off the Blvd Haussmann, on rue Drouot. This auction is not for the faint of heart. One must be able to interpret French numbers. If one is weak in the knowledge, it’s best to simply go and preview. Opening at 11am for preview, there are usually several “salles” filled with wonderful things for one to peruse. Closing at 12:30 for lunch and then re opening at 1:30 or 2pm for the actual sale. Again, not for the faint of heart. And prices we found to be quite high. All sales are final and there is a high buyers fee. Et Bon Chance!
The last is the Marche des Puces located in the northern most section of Paris. This can be the “Rodeo Drive” of flea markets as it has evolved from a group of rag dealers 100 years ago to several marches encompassing 2,000 dealers. Each marche has its own personality. Open only Saturday thru Monday, plan on full days exploring these markets. Katherine and I had some luck here, accompanied by our husbands, as this is not the best part of the city. But in all this was a successful foraging. We scored not only great items but also created a relationship with a lovely vendor named Claire who not only supplied us with fabulous things but also shipped them all the way from Paris to our shop door (a miracle.)
This is a long tale designed to let you know that we have received our fabulous antiques from Paris. We’ve had time to clean and restore them and are ready to put them on the floor. So please come soon, we are glad to talk about our trip and describe when/where/how we acquired these items. We may in fact have a pic or two to share with you! All are offered for sale and we hope you will like them as much as we did when we discovered these hidden treasures.